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Can you please help me decide if my case involves diversity issues - whether to file in state court or federal?

Maricopa, AZ |

I live in Arizona and I'm suing Bank of America (actually a subsidiary) for breach of contract; breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; promissory estoppel; and negligent infliction of emotional distress. I might also move for quiet title which would put actual damages over the $75,000 requirement as it would include my house. I know Obama just signed a bill affecting diversity jurisdiction. So can I file the complaint in state court now or do I still have to file in federal? Thanks --

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Best Answer

Jurisdictional issues are often complicated, time sensitive, and contain a variety of nuances depending on the specific facts of each case. Thus, it is always best to consult an attorney when faced with these issues. However, as I understand your question, you are inquiring whether there is any law or rule precluding you from filing your complaint in state court against Bank of America for various contract and tort claims. Under the facts you have proposed, there is nothing preventing you from filing in state court. Arizona state court is a court of "general jurisdiction"—meaning it can hear, among other things, pretty much any contract and tort claims filed by Arizona residents (with a few exceptions that probably are not applicable to your fact pattern).

After you file your complaint, Bank of America may have grounds to "remove" the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Federal law grants this right to certain defendants that are sued in state court when they can meet the requirements for removal. In a situation like the one you have proposed, Bank of America would be entitled to remove the case to federal court within 30 days after you serve the complaint if it can show there is diversity jurisdiction. In short, this would require Bank of America to show: (1) it is not a citizen of Arizona (i.e., it is not an Arizona corporation and its principal place of business in not in Arizona); and (2) the amount you are seeking against Bank of America is more likely than not in excess of $75,000. You did not mention the possibility of any other defendants, but if there are other defendants who are residents or citizens of Arizona, this may preclude Bank of America’s from removing the case.

This email provides general information only as a public service and it does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Timothy Paul Remick

Timothy Paul Remick


It is also important to determine whether there is a forum selection clause in your contract with Bank of America's subsidiary. Suing the correct entity or entities within the applicable statute of limitations is of utmost importance. Sometimes it is difficult to determine these issues and seeking advice from a competent civil litigator is highly recommended.


I hope you have an attorney helping you with all this, because if you don't, I think your chances for any sort of success are slight at best.

I don't know of a reason you could not file in either State or Federal Court, but again, that's a decision that should be made by someone experienced in this sort of litigation.

This is AVVO, a place for users to obtain general legal information to general legal questions. I am glad to help you in any way I can, within those limits. I wish to make clear I am only communicating with you for the sole purpose of exchanging such general information, and nothing more. It is not legal advice, which I can not provide because among other reasons I know few of the necessary details of your situation. I do not purport to represent you in any way, shape or form. Of course, if you would like to seek out my services, and if you are a NY resident, I will probably not put up very much resistance but representation would still necessitate a signed retainer agreement between yourself and I. Thank you.


Doesn't sound like there is any criminality here and that this is strictly a civil matter. As such I would suggest you repost this in the litigation and/or lawsuits and disputes section. A civil litigator would be better suited to assist you.


I recommend that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in federal civil actions; the rules are complex and technical, and the slightest mistake could result in a dismissal and sanctions.

Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq.

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